Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hannover

[ Hanover ]


The day after our festive holiday party, my friends coming from all over Europe and myself planned a day trip to enjoy the city of Hannover and its Christmas Market now covered in a thick layer of snow. I was excited because it was my first time to visit the city with my semester ticket and it was also another opportunity to experience another unique Weihnachtsmarkt in Germany.

With leftover cookies and snacks from the night before, we had a great time probably entertaining the entire car of our train singing away to some great 90’s nostalgia, and before we knew it, the hours flew by and we were in the central and capital city of Niedersachsen in Hannover.

It was incredibly cold – the type of temperature that makes it regardless how many layers you put on – it still penetrated right through you. For me, it was normal – for my Mediterranean friends, well the below 0 Celsius degrees were pushing them to new limits. In fact, I had was very excited watching their reactions of “wow, the snow really crunches like in the movies!” since for a few, this was the first time in their life that they saw snow that actually “stayed on the ground!”.

Hannover has a very convenient red-line that tourists can follow to make a complete journey through the city and visit all the important landmarks. Unfortunately it was covered in snow – but with our map we still found our way around. Through the impressive shopping streets – After all, Hannover is one of the largest cities in this part of Germany – we past some very modern business quarters.

Like many historical parts of Germany, it is incredible to see the old and new side by side, and often times the memorials of the struggles and trials the cities went through during the war to become what they have today. The Hannover Aegidienkirche stands as a roof-less skeleton representing the complete destruction of the city during the war – giving an awe inspiring realization at its surroundings that give no other hint to a destructed past.

Further along the red line was – “is that a church?” – “no, that is the Rathaus!” – yes, the Altes Rathaus, the old city center that was so big, it had me in disbelief that it wasn’t a church or former castle. The Rathaus in Munich, when I visited in October, was also impressive, but this Rathaus in Hannover had a sprawling garden and lake behind it that separated its greatness and accented the building as a singular landmark.

The inside was incredible, with spiral staircases and multiple levels – it was a good excuse to sit and observe the building while letting our toes defrost. Through the back, we past some pretty magical wedding ceremonies with the reception back dropped by centuries old architecture and a winter wonderland out the windows of a glass-shimmering frozen lake and snow frosted bridges.

We all took our opportunity to walk around the lake and took in the scene from many angles from the different bridges. It was a beautiful place and definitely a beautiful image from north-west Germany.